It was 100 years ago that the was armistice signed between the Allies and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front, essentially ending World War I.
The armistice took effect at 11 a.m.— the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month,” which we now observe as Veterans Day.
On that day, when World War I ended on Nov. 11, 1918, the Bellevue Herald reported it as follows.
“Early in the morning, all the bells were rung, whistles blown, cannons, guns and explosives set off. The streets were crowded with people and school children who had been dismissed from school for the day, and pandemonium reigned supreme in Bellevue.”
This was the beginning of Veterans Day celebrations in Bellevue and across the nation.
That 100-year tradition will continue next Monday, as Bellevue American Legion Post #273 will conduct traditional Veterans Day ceremonies at the Bellevue High School on Monday, Nov. 12 at 10 a.m.
Those veterans and those currently serving from the various branches of the United State military will be honored in song and prayers.
The featured speaker for the program will be Command Sgt. Major (Ret) Rick Ernst of Bellevue, who is currently the Director of the Sergeant Jeffrey B. Dodge Veterans Center at the University of Dubuque, where he serves as Veterans Admission and Assistance Coordinator.
Ernst, who also has a bachelor of science degree from Columbia Southern is a 1981 graduate of Bellevue High School who served in the United States Army from 1983 to 2014.
He will speak about the importance of service to the country, as well as touching on the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, as well as the 100th anniversary of the American Legion In 2019.
When the United States entered World War I, June 5, 1917 was the date set by Congress for the registration of all young men. Nationwide, over ten million registered, 206,000 from Iowa.
In Bellevue, there were 101 registrants and about 200 more from nearby townships.
On Sept. 4, 1917, the first men from Bellevue were called up.
According to government records, those men included (with many surnames still familiar in Bellevue today) George Kieffer, James Straitt, Fred Etting, Frank Meier, Horatio Lundin, Martin Thomas, Edward Hoff, Peter Ties, George Schaub, H.H. Rolling, Alfred Medinger, Alfred Wohlers, John Dennison, Harvey Sieverding, Nick Cass, Walter Barrett, Edwin Schlentz, Arthur Felderman, Harvey Felderman, Fred Guenther, Alfred Keil, Ralph Tietjen, Charles Gleason, Alfred Yeager, Peter Hingtgen, Arthur Manderscheid, Aaron Felderman, Andy Lingle, Conrad Reed and Herman Yeager.
While more men would be called as the WWI progressed, final casualties from Bellevue included Clifford Bradley, Arnold Brown, Albert Michels, George Schaub, Peter Schmidt, Tasso Schoop, Alvin Schroeder and John Daughterty.
According to the historical records at the Herald-Leader office, Jackson County furnished its full quota of men, and they were eventually sent all over the country for training.
For many of these young men, it had probably been the first time they had been outside the confines of the eastern Iowa area.
Sergeant Clifford Bradley of Company D. 26th Infantry, 1st Division, AEF, in a letter to a Mrs. A. Brandt of Bellevue from France in 1918, described being a member of the first raiding party, “that went over the top to visit the Boche. One of my chums, Sergeant Murphy of B. Company who was with me on that one, and who had been on others, has been recently decorated with the Croix, de Guerre. Lucky dog.”
Of course there were many casualties, from battle wounds and disease – and Sergeant Clifford Bradley was the first Bellevue solder to die for his country. He was killed in action on the Picardy front on July 17, 1918, as was reported in the Bellevue Herald from that time. Bradley had enlisted in the regular army in 1916 and had previously been stationed with U.S. troops on the Mexican border.
Another Bellevue man, Corporal Alvin Schroeder, died in France on Sept. 18, 1918 of wounds received in action. His memory is honored in the “World War I Honor Roll” traveling exhibit at the State Historical Museum of Iowa in Des Moines.
John Daughtery, a Marine, was killed in action Oct. 4, 1918 in the battle of Chateau Thierry. Nicholas Medinger died from the effects of a severe German mustard gas attack; Tesso Schoop was killed in action on Oct. 11, 1918; and George Schaub died of pneumonia resulting from influenza on Oct. 20, 1918. Two Bellevue brothers, Chris and Alfred Schroeder, also died of influenza while serving in France.
In the latter part of September, 1918, the unrelenting pressure of the Allied Forces forced the German army to fall back, and it became apparent to the German High Command that there was nothing to gain from the continuation of the war.
Germany send out feelers to the Allied nations for peace terms. Then on Nov. 11, 1918 at exactly 11 a.m., all fighting on the Western Front stopped. The war was over.
The Nov. 14, 1918 Bellevue Herald reported, “There was a big parade and the demonstration, in one form or the other, continued until late in the night, and Nov. 11, 1918 was a day never to be forgotten in Bellevue, and this date will no doubt be observed in future years as one of the greatest holidays of the earth.”
World War I took the lives of more than 9 million soldiers; 21 million more were wounded. Civilian casualties caused indirectly by the war numbered close to 10 million. The two nations most affected were Germany and France, each of which sent some 80 percent of their male populations between the ages of 15 and 49 into battle.
The political disruption surrounding World War I also contributed to the fall of four venerable imperial dynasties—Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia and Turkey.
World War I brought about massive social upheaval, as millions of women entered the workforce to support men who went to war, and to replace those who never came back. The first global war also helped to spread one of the world’s deadliest global pandemics, the flu epidemic of 1918, which killed an estimated 20 to 50 million people.
World War I has also been referred to as “the first modern war.” Many of the technologies we now associate with military conflict—machine guns, tanks, aerial combat and radio communications—were introduced on a massive scale during World War I.
The severe effects that chemical weapons such as mustard gas and phosgene had on soldiers and civilians during World War I galvanized public and military attitudes against their continued use. The Geneva Protocol, signed in 1925, restricted the use of chemical and biological agents in warfare, and remains in effect today.
Along with the program veterans at the ceremony will be honored by the Armed Forces Salute by the BHS band. The choirs from both Marquette Catholic and Bellevue Public, will come together to pay their respects through song.
Traditionally, the Post 273 Color Guard will play the Volley Salute and Taps. After the salute, the retirement of Colors will begin, also conducted by the Post 273 Color Guard. This traditional ceremony has been at the High School for many years, and people from the community are welcome to attend.
Following the ceremony at the high school, the Bellevue Student Council will be hosting a veterans dinner. It will take place at Horizon Hall from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. and The Riverview Hotel will be catering.